Murkowski joins bipartisan group introducing bill protecting abortion, contraception rights

WASHINGTON — Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Monday joined a bipartisan coalition to introduce a bill that would protect abortion and contraception access.

The measure faces an uncertain future in a Senate that failed to pass a broader measure enshrining abortion rights in May. It also comes as Murkowski faces reelection this fall, with abortion emerging as a key issue in that campaign.

Despite the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors — Tim Kaine, D-Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Murkowski — it is unlikely to clear the 60 votes necessary to overcome a GOP filibuster.

In a statement, the senators said it would “undo the damage” of the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In that decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas signaled that the court may also reconsider its stances on contraception and same-sex marriage.

The bill leans on language from Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and other Supreme Court rulings that protected abortion before the court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision on June 24.

It would block state regulations that impose an “undue burden” on women trying to get a pre-viability abortion, according to the written statement from the senators. The act would allow states to make “reasonable restrictions” on post-viability abortion and ensure abortions to protect the life or health of the mother.

In Alaska, abortion access is protected under the state constitution. Changing that would require changing the constitution — a possibility that GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy has suggested exploring in the state’s next legislative session.


The federal legislation would also preserve the right to contraception access that is currently constitutionally protected by another Supreme Court ruling, Griswold v. Connecticut.

Additionally, it would keep in place conscience protections for health care providers that refuse to provide abortions because of religious beliefs.

“For five decades, reproductive health care decisions were centered with the individual — we cannot go back in time in limiting personal freedoms for women,” Murkowski said in a written statement.

“Every American should have autonomy over their own health care decisions,” Murkowski said. “The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs has made it imperative for Congress to restore women’s reproductive rights.”

Murkowski is the only one of the bill’s sponsors who is running for reelection this year, and she faced a wave of criticism for her votes to confirm two of the justices who later backed the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Murkowski faces challenges from both the right and left. Her leading opponents are conservative Republican candidate Kelly Tshibaka and Democrat Pat Chesbro, who both have raised concerns over Murkowski’s position on abortion access.

“Put this on the list of reasons why Lisa Murkowski can’t be trusted. Just a few weeks ago she voted against codifying Roe v. Wade, but now she wants pro-choice voters to think she’s for it,” Tshibaka said in a written statement Monday.

Murkowski voted in May against the House’s abortion bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, because she said it went too far beyond codifying Roe. She has not taken a position on the House’s Right to Contraception Act which passed 228-195 last month.

Murkowski has tried to codify Roe v. Wade before. Alongside Collins, she introduced a bill to protect Roe v. Wade in February. However, the bill has not advanced since.

Tshibaka has previously said she thinks it should be up to states to determine laws governing abortion access. She criticized the new legislation on Monday for failing to put in place federal limitations on late-term abortions, calling it “the most extreme position possible.”

Chesbro, who is running for the Senate seat with the backing of the Alaska Democratic Party, said Monday that she would not support the new legislation because it does not protect abortion access after fetal viability — generally considered to be around 24 weeks of gestation. Chesbro said she favors the Women’s Health Protection Act that failed to advance in May.

“I don’t think it really addresses the issues that were present before Roe v. Wade was overturned,” Chesbro said about the new legislation. “I’m not going to call it a political stunt, but I am going to say that I doubt it would pass even in its current form.”

The Daily News’ Riley Rogerson reported from Washington, D.C., and Iris Samuels reported from Anchorage.

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at